Salmon and Pasta with Strawberry Lemon Cream Sauce

Pasta with Strawberry Lemon Cream SauceWe have a bumper crop of strawberries this year. I planted the patch the first summer we lived here. That was 3 years ago. It is finally producing lots and lots of berries. Big juicy ones too. We’ve had strawberry shortcake, smoothies, salads, and I’ve even frozen a few bags for later. We were getting a little tired of the usual berry dishes, so I tried to come up with something a little different. I got the idea for this dish after making a salad with tuna, arugula, basil, cheese, almonds, and strawberries with a lemon/olive oil dressing for lunch one day.

It’s a great pasta dish for summer. It is light and hearty all at the same time. It also has sweet, savory, and tart notes all in one dish, which will make your taste buds smile. At least they made mine smile. The kids approved too.

Salmon and Pasta with Strawberry Lemon Cream Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 Salmon filet
  • 1 lb of your favorite pasta (I used Angel Hair, but any kind will work)
  • Olive Oil (a few tablespoons for sauteing and drizzling on the salmon)
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 vidalia onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cream (half and half works too)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • salt
  • freshly ground white pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Salt, pepper and oil the salmon to taste. Bake until flaky (about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your filet and your oven). You can also grill the salmon if you like.
  3. While the fish is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. When the fish is done, remove from oven and allow to cool.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  5. While the pasta is cooking, heat about 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a saute pan.
  6. Saute onion until it’s translucent.
  7. Add garlic, cook about 30 seconds.
  8. Add basil, cook a few seconds until it wilts.
  9. Add wine, broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a bubble and then reduce heat.
  10. Mix a small ladle full of the pasta water with the cornstarch. Then whisk the cornstarch mixture into the pan, stirring constantly until it thickens.
  11. Add cream, lemon juice, and zest.
  12. Toss with pasta and cook for a few minutes to finish cooking the pasta.
  13. Remove from heat.
  14. Add flaked salmon and strawberries and toss again.
  15. Serve immediately with fresh grated pecorino cheese, fresh basil, and lemon slices.

Salmon and pasta with strawberry lemon cream sauce

Baking Bread and Orzo Soup

bread

In winter when the days get shorter, colder, and gloomier, not only do I hunker down with hot tea, a good book, and my knitting needles, I also crave certain foods like starchy soups, stews, and heavy pasta dishes. The best thing to serve with these dishes are a warm piece of crusty bread. I always thought baking bread was a long and involved endeavor. That was until Pinterest arrived. Then I found out you can make yummy, fresh-baked bread with very little time and effort. It does take some planning ahead since you have to wait for the for the dough to rise, but other than that, it’s super easy.

On one of my first attempts, I tried making a loaf in the crock-pot following this recipe. I like my crock-pot. It gives the illusion of making things easier, and it doesn’t tie up my oven so I can use it for other things.

I don’t know if I did something wrong, but mine did not turn out very yummy. It looked, and kind of tasted, like plastic. I stubbornly ate it because I made it and didn’t want to admit defeat. However, I conceded after choking down the first slice and eventually tossed the doomed loaf to the birds. I might try it again, but after using a similar recipe in the oven successfully, I don’t see why I need to try out the crock pot again. Unless of course, I need my oven for other things.

bread

My first loaf of crock-pot bread. It looks yummy, but it didn’t taste so yummy.

The recipe I’ve been using is from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. It’s turns out perfect every time. One thing I do that she doesn’t mention in her recipe is to dust the baking stone with cornmeal so it doesn’t stick. I’ve been making a batch of bread dough on Sunday, then bake it as I need it throughout the week. One batch makes about 2-3 loaves and keeps in the fridge for 5 days.

The recipe works well with whole-grain flours too. I usually use half whole-grain flour and half regular flour. I think the whole-grain tastes better myself, but my son would disagree with me.

And it goes perfectly with my Veggie Orzo Soup. For that you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 white onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced (I really like garlic)
  • 1 32 oz. can of stewed tomatoes – fresh work too if you have them
  • about 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 can of plain, NON-marinated, artichoke hearts, drained
  • salt
  • pepper
  • herbs d’provence
  • olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup orzo

Instructions

  • Heat up about 2 TBSP of olive oil in a heavy stock pot. Cook the onions, peppers, carrots, and celery until they are soft.
  • Add the garlic and herbs d’Provence and cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes and chicken stock. When it gets bubbly, cover, turn the heat down, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Next, add the orzo and artichokes and cook for about 10 more minutes. If the soup is too think, you can add more stock or water.
  • Right before you serve, squeeze the lemon juice in and give it a quick stir.

You can really add any of your favorite veggies to this – zucchini, leeks, potatoes, kale, etc. If you like a meatier soup, sausage works well in this too. I’ve also added garbanzo or cannellini beans when I want a heartier soup without the meat – 1 15 oz. can of beans is a good amount for a pot of soup. If you use beans in the recipe, I would reduce the amount of pasta by half.

Next I want to try my hand at homemade pita bread. I’ve found a few recipes to try out. I’ll let you know how it goes.

***

On the running side of things, I only managed to get outside to run twice last week for a measly total of 5.22 miles. The weather has not been on my side, which is fine for this time of year I guess. However, I am ready for it to warm up and defrost. I’m beginning to wake from my hibernation phase. I’m done reading about running. I’m ready to actually run.

Food + Family = Fun

Sorry I haven’t been around much the last 2 weeks. I was taking advantage of the warm weather and doing lots of clean-up around the yard. I’ve also been busy with the kids, Spring Break, and I got suddenly busy with design work, which is good for me but bad for the blog.

I don’t have a post prepared for today either, but I did find this old post from my previous blog. It made me smile and it comes with a yummy recipe that is perfect for the rainy, spring days ahead, so I thought it was worth re-posting here. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any photos. This was written before I had a nice camera or even knew how to use them.

My son always frustrates me at the dinner table. There are very few foods he will eat. He won’t eat anything that looks “weird”. And he won’t eat anything that “his smell sensors” tell him are off. Last night I accidentally found a remedy to this situation.

A few days ago, while the kids were at school, I had an ambitious moment and decided to roll my own tortellini. I spent all afternoon in the kitchen making the pasta and strolling down memory lane. I remembered slurping tortellini soup in my grandmother’s kitchen when I was little. I remembered getting bags of fresh rolled tortellini from my grandmother to take back with me when I was in college. I also remembered a weekend I spent with my grandmother talking and rolling, stuffing and folding pasta. It was a fun and relaxing day. And so was this particular afternoon.

When I served up my labor intensive creation for dinner, my son responded with, “What the heck?”

“It’s tortellini soup.”

“It looks weird.”

“But it’s very good.”

“My smell sensors tell me it’s off.”

“Your smell sensors must be off then, because this is very tasty.”

“Delicious!” my daughter exclaims as she noisily slurps up the soup. At least somebody likes it. Joe on the other hand made himself a salami sandwich with some carrots.

Last night, I had some filling left over so I decided to make a batch of tortellini to freeze. Joe wandered into the kitchen while I was getting my pasta roller out.

“Wow! What is that?”

“A pasta roller.”

“You mean you’re going to make pasta? Without a box?” He was completely amazed that you could make pasta from flower and eggs and that there was no box involved. “Can I help?”

“Sure.”

We spent the next three hours kneading, rolling, stuffing and folding. And when all the filling was gone, but there was still dough left, we rolled out some fettuccine to dry for later. And then surprisingly he asked if we could eat some of the tortellini for dinner. “Sure, buddy.”

So while he went into the living room to work on his homework, I heated up some chicken stock and put into it the left over tortellini from the night before. I put our new tortellini in the freezer for another day. And you know he ate 3 servings of the same soup his “smell sensors” told him was off the night before. And now I know to have him help me make dinner the next time I serve something new. Maybe then his “smell sensors” will tell him its good!

And for the recipe:

For the filling I use:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb of ground turkey or chicken
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • oregano
  • basil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • You can also substitute portabello mushrooms for the meat for a vegetarian version.

Directions:

  • Heat up olive oil in a skillet and saute garlic just until you start to smell it. Add the meat and brown. Add oregano and basil. Stir for a minute more. Remove from heat. Add cheese, salt and pepper.
  • The filling needs to cool completely before you can stuff your tortellini.
  • I make the pasta dough following the instructions that came with my pasta roller. It’s never disappointed me yet. After I roll out the dough as thin as I can get it, I cut it once lengthwise down the center with a pizza cutter. Then I cut it into 1-2 inch squares.
  • You’ll need to get a little pastry brush and a cup of water for the next part.
  • In the center of each square, place a small amount of filling. You don’t want to over stuff them or they will fall apart when you cook them. After you’ve placed the filling on each square, brush the edges with a little water. Fold them into triangles and press the edges together. Then fold two of the points around your finger and pinch together.

(Here’s a trick I learned if you plan on freezing them – place all your tortellinis on a cookie sheet and put the freezer for about 20 minutes. Take them out and put in a freezer bag. Now they won’t stick together. They should keep in the freezer for about 3 or 4 months.) You can also use wonton wrappers instead of rolling your own dough. It’s not as good, but it works.

You can serve your tortellini with your favorite sauce. Or you can serve them my favorite way, in clear broth. Just before serving I throw some fresh parsley into the broth and serve with warm, crusty Italian bread.

Pasta with Pancetta and Beans

I recently came across an Italian Deli at the local farmers’ market and have been cooking up a storm since. All the imported pancetta, prosciutto and cheeses have re-awakened my inner chef. I’ve always meant to write down my winning recipes for future reference, so here I have decided to start.

And just a note: I don’t really measure my ingredients (especially spices), so these are just my best estimate. You can adjust yours to taste.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. pasta (I like orecchiette for this dish, the little bowl shaped pasta holds the sauce nicely, but any kind of pasta will do.)
  • olive oil
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 16 oz. can of cannellini beans or garbanzo beans, drained (the cannellini beans give this dish a creamier texture, but the garbanzo beans add a nice texture too.)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups diced Roma tomatoes (you can use canned or fresh)
  • dry white wine
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large pot, bring heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al-dente. Don’t cook all the way. It will finish cooking in the sauce later.
  2. In a large sauté pan, coat the bottom with about two turns of olive oil. Add pancetta and cook until crispy. Remove the cooked pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and let rest on a paper towel.
  3. Return the pan to the burner and add onions. Cook until translucent.
  4. Add garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Cook just a few minutes, be careful not to burn the garlic.
  5. Add white wine and scrape up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add cannellini beans, tomatoes and a few ladles of your pasta water. Stir and wait until it gets bubbly, then turn down the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens a little.
  7. Add the pasta, stir and cook for about 5 minutes until your pasta is tender and the sauce is thickened. Right before serving, add the pancetta back in and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.